Board members from Hollywood’s actors union voted Friday to approve the deal with studios that ended their strike after nearly four months, with the union’s leadership touting the gains made in weeks of methodical negotiations.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists’ executive director and chief negotiator, announced at a Friday news conference that the tentative agreement was approved with 86% of the vote.
The three-year contract agreement next goes to a vote from the union’s members, who are now learning what they earned through spending the summer and early fall on picket lines instead of on film and television sets. That vote begins Tuesday and continues into December.
Crabtree-Ireland said the deal “will keep the motion picture industry sustainable as a profession for working-class performers.”
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said the studios believed they could outlast actors by waiting more than two months before initiating talks.
“What were they doing? Were they trying to smoke us out?” she said. “Well honey, I quit smoking a long time ago.”
Crabtree-Ireland and Drescher would not give specifics on who disapproved of the deal, and why. The board vote was weighted, so it’s not immediately clear how many people voted against approval.
Overall, the happy scene at SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles headquarters was as different as can be from the defiant, angry tone of a news conference in the same room in July, when guild leaders announced that actors would join writers in a historic strike that shook the industry.
The successful vote by the board, whose members include actors Billy Porter, Jennifer Beals, Sean Astin and Sharon Stone, was expected, as many of the same people were on the committee that negotiated the deal. And it was in some ways drained of its drama by union leaders declaring the strike over as soon as the tentative deal was reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Wednesday, rather than waiting for the approval.
But it was still an essential step in returning to business as usual in Hollywood, if there is any such thing.
Actors need not wait for the ratification to start acting again — “in fact some of them already have,” Crabtree-Ireland said.
Contract provisions surrounding the control of artificial intelligence were among the last sticking points in the agreement.
“AI was a dealbreaker,” Drescher said. “If we didn’t get that package, then what are we doing to protect our members?”